Maher time

Maher time

: Watched Maher last night. Tim Robbins looked chronically confused. Tucker Carlson said that spreading democracy is not cause for sending our soldiers into war. Robbins said Iraq now has a president who won’t shake hands with women. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones said she respects that Muslim choice. Maher and Carlson both said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

It’s a damned Cirque du Soleil of politics. It’s the Blue Man Group of the blue states.

Maher said he doesn’t agree with Ward Churchill but then turned around and said, “Is the United States guilty of a passive aggressive violence against the world? Yes.”

At the end, Maher said they’ve been trying hard to get more conservatives in the audience so they don’t all hoot at the same lines from the panel. But he said it’s hard because conservatives don’t like him.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Surely Maher knows SOME conservatives who are above hooting?
    By the way, Ward Churchill’s work has turned out to include some knock-offs of other artists’ work. Doubtless, soon to be included in every mention of his name like male prostitution in a certain proto-journalist’s.

  • Chaunce Hayden

    “Maher said he doesn’t agree with Ward Churchill but then turned around and said, “Is the United States guilty of a passive aggressive violence against the world? Yes.”"
    Jeff, are you implying that this is some sort of flip flop or contradiction? I don’t think it’s a contradiction to believe that official US policy has resulted in violence and destruction for many (for example Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Dominican Republic, Iran, Iraq, East Timor, to pull some random examples from the last 50 years) AND that Ward Churchill is an asshole for his revolting claim that the WTC victims deserved their fate. An honest person capable of moral jusdgement would have to agree wth Maher.

  • http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/ sbw

    An honest person capable of moral jusdgement would have to agree wth Maher.
    Not always… Not often… Seldom… Almost never.
    ;-)

  • tb

    What do you mean about Tim Robbins? He always has that confused look, thats his schtick isn’t it? Or were you implying a more general ‘look at that goofy liberal thing’.
    Didn’t see Maher, but am interested in Tuckers statement about using troops to spread democracy. I think everyone except the most callous conservatives have gotten a bit nervous about killing our servicemen for the ‘spreading democracy’ mantra. After all, they never really intended to get caught in that conundrum, they stumbled across it to save face. I have to agree with Carlson here, war mongering is something that goes against the grain of civilized thinking. We do seem to be as Hunter Thompson has put it, ‘in the throes of a national, nervous breakdown’. This too shall pass, probably as quickly as the ‘new economy’ that ballooned the 90′s.

  • http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?ean=763843800465&frm=0&itm=6 BumperStickerist

    Jeff ..
    Bill Maher never shone so brightly as he did in ‘Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death’ {link in sig).
    but to be more on point, I have a problem with the whole notion of ‘passive-aggressive’ being a bad thing. Maher’s construct only allows three other combinations
    ‘Aggressive-Aggressive’
    Aggressive – Passive’
    ‘Passive – Passive’
    What’s Maher arguing for – that the US should adopt a more ‘aggressive-aggressive’ policy towards wayward nations?
    Should Bush be more inclined to pull the car over to the side of the road?

  • http://noeasyanswers.blogspot.com Malderi

    I used to watch Bill Maher. About a year ago, he made a joke about Iraqi soldiers, saying something along the lines of “Note to Iraqi Insurgents: severed head drop-off is TUESDAY.”
    I expected nobody to laugh.
    They all did. I never watched him again after that. He used to be funny, but he lost it all. I have a good sense of humor and make jokes about things all the time, but there are things (like beheadings of innocent people) that I won’t joke about, and I won’t laugh about, and I won’t watch anyone who does.

  • http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/ sbw

    tb: for the ‘spreading democracy’ mantra. After all, they never really intended to get caught in that conundrum, they stumbled across it to save face.
    Nice meme. Not true.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com hugh macleod

    A politically correct show that calls itself “Politically Incorrect” is to be viewed with suspicion.
    I think the trouble with PI is its trying to peddle a Washington/Worldly perspective, but it still wants to be a Hollywood show.
    Hollywood + Anything that matters = Bad combo.

  • http://www.tonypierce.com tony

    jeff,
    i think you missed rep. jones’s point after maher et all gasped at her.
    she explained that she would rather accept someone’s religious beliefs regarding not shaking hands with a woman than dealing with someone who shook her hand and then stabbed her in the back the way many Christian americans are with her on the hill. and im with her.
    i also think you missed the point that tucker was making about war and democracy. he said that it’s one thing to defend america’s democracy, but to send soldiers to another country to fight (and die) so that that country can vote for a president who wont shake hands with women is not something that he thinks we should be doing. and i have to agree on that point.
    if a country wants to fight for the right to vote, let them. but keep your eye on the prize jeff, we did not go to iraq so that iraqi’s could vote for religious sexists, we went there because everyone said that they had wmds and ties to al queda.

  • http://youngcurmudgeon.typepad.com Eric Deamer

    Now if you want to talk about something that’s obsolete how about Bill Maher. I think a handful of bloggers are the only people who watch him.

  • Chaunce Hayden

    sbw’s glibness aside, what makes one skeptical about the “spreading democracy mantra” is the fact that almost every dubious policy in our history is defended by some claim to “spreading democracy” if apologists can’t keep a straight enough face to invoke “self defense.” When the US continued to support Saddam Hussein after Halabja was that “spreading democracy” or “self defense?”

  • http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher/ Yehudit

    “if a country wants to fight for the right to vote, let them. but keep your eye on the prize jeff, we did not go to iraq so that iraqi’s could vote for religious sexists, we went there because everyone said that they had wmds and ties to al queda.”
    Spreading democracy and removing a horrible tyrant were always mentioned as among the reasons for deposing Saddam right from the beginning. Nice try at rewriting history.
    The current Iraqi provisional government has a greater percentage of women in its parliament than our Congress ever had, because we insisted they reserve 1/3 of the seats for women candidates. It’s called affirmative action.
    Women in Iraq have been running for and winning municipal elections since fall 2003. Iraq is about the most secular Arab nation in the ME, and always was.

  • John Thacker

    Chaunce–
    What makes me skeptical about you is your remark about El Salvador and Nicaragua. Also Camdodia– is the Khmer Rouge our fault as well? Same old story of blaming the US for every wrong thing done by its allies, its enemies. Blaming the US for everything that happens when we do something (it’s our fault, or blowback), or everything that happens when we do nothing (we should have intervened.)
    Central America DOES have democracy now. If the Sandinistas– who keep losing fair elections– had won, it wouldn’t have.

  • http://donatacom.com/blog.shtml Terry Heaton

    It’s not just that conservatives don’t like Maher; it’s that he so deftly alienates everybody outside his elitist circle that nobody else is welcome.
    I recall his dissing southerners by saying that we “pronounce all four Es in the word shit.” Imagine similar humor aimed at blacks or jews. In his mind, it’s alright to dehumanize southerners, because he isn’t one.
    Fortunately, nobody’s paying attention.

  • Chaunce Hayden

    John, you’re right – four years of the US bombing the hell out of Cambodia didn’t help the Khmer Rouge take over the country at all.

  • spaceman

    Well, Maher wasn’t quite as all round obnoxius as last scene. I never figured out any point Robbins was trying to make & neither the congresslady. When Tucker makes you look bad, there ain’t much sport shooting going on.

  • Jeremy

    Chaunce,
    Perhaps you can explain how it was that U.S. bombing along the Vietnam-Cambodia border “helped the Khmer Rouge take over the country”?
    You seem to be making John’s point by simply asserting that the U.S. did something bad in country x, therefore, the U.S. is responsible for something horrible that happened in country x years later. Not very persuasive–how do you get from point A to B? I’m not an expert on S.E. Asia and am open to agreeing with your conclusion if you can put forward a convincing factual argument to support it.
    One further note: The areas of Cambodia that we were bombing would have been, if anything, Khmer Rouge strongholds (as it was a movement of rural/jungle peasants pitted against the urban “elites” of the country), we weren’t bombing Phnom Phen. It also strikes me as grossly inaccurate to suggest that we “bombed the hell” out of the entire country for 4 years. If that was the case, then how was it ever kept secret for so long? Answer: b/c in fact it was limited bombing in the jungles along the border.

  • Krusty Krab

    It’s not just that conservatives don’t like Maher; it’s that he so deftly alienates everybody outside his elitist circle that nobody else is welcome.
    Sounds like a good candidate for the Oliver Willis Fan Club. It’s all about out “liberalizing” everybody these days in that group.
    BTW, here is a 1998 document describing the strategic plan for the invasion of Iraq. WMD (a construct added by Colin Powell to see the invasion to Europe and the UN) is conspicuously absent. Credit goes to Charybdis via Wizbang. Yes

  • Chaunce Hayden

    The Khmer Rouge seized power on April 17, 1975. Conditions prior to that date are the result of a coup d’etat which put the US friendly Lon Nol in charge and led to a civil war, one side of which was assisted by a massive US bombing campaign. One month BEFORE the Khmer Rouge takeover, the Office of the Inspector-General of Foreign Assistance released a report which can be found in the Congressional Record, March 20, 1975 Vol. 121:
    “The general level of health of almost the entire Cambodian population — the refugees, the poor, families of military servicemen, and particularly the children, has deteriorated rapidly. Malnutrition, including the advanced stages of kwashiorkor and marasmus, has increased dramatically over the last several months. Measles, malaria, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases also were increasing in incidence, often with fatal
    prognosis….Dispensaries, clinics, hospitals and nutrition centers, limited in number, were forced to refuse treatment to gravely ill because of the lack of facilities and shortage of doctors. Overworked medical personnel were unable to cope with the numbers of people that presented themselves for treatment….In Phnom Penh, there are between one and two million refugees in a city that had a pre-war total population of about 375,000. The added hundreds of thousands of destitute victims has proven a burden with which relief programs cannot cope…. Almost the totality of those refugees entering Phnom Penh and the provincial capitals for protection were farmers from the neighboring countryside. The impact of this influx of farmers into urban areas and away from the productive farm areas had great economic impact, reducing the agricultural production of the country to the point where instead of being a substantial exporter of rice, fruit, fish and livestock Cambodia has become a massive importer of rice….”
    This chilling report is corroborated by a report from Tom Matthews in Newsweek, March 10,1975:
    “In the Khmer Sovi

  • James

    Chaunce:
    Just wanted to let you know – some people actually appreciate your injecting facts into a speculative conversation.
    It’s well accepted by political scientists across the spectrum that the bombings of Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia very strongly accelerated the breakdown of the nation’s society and government, and displaced massive rural populations, all facilitating the Khmer Rouge rise to power.
    And, by the lowest estimates, 600,000 people were killed in the bombings.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Chaunce and James:
    There’s a lot of background being opened up in the recently released extensive tapes of Nixon’s escapades at the library in Austin, TX. Thanks for the facts. More are now being researched. The invasion of Cambodia which was undeclared has been confirmed, for starters.

  • pilsener

    Once upon a time there was Bill Buckley’s Firing Line, where intelligent people debated using reasoned arguments.
    But TV determined that Saturday Night Live’s Crossfire “Jane you ignorant slut” was more entertaining. So shows like Bill Maher’s carry on the SNL tradition in a meaner, less comic way.
    Bill Maher is the Jerry Springer Show of poltical discussion.

  • Jeremy

    Chaunce,
    Thanks for providing some facts, I now you think you do have a valid point, to some extent.
    However, to point out the obvious, none of the three contemporaneous reports you cite mentions U.S. bombing as a cause of the horrific conditions they describe in 1974-75.
    The only assertion of U.S. responsibility comes from the testimony of a single F.S. officer in 1977. Even he mentions the bombing as the second factor, and only asserts that it “accelerated” the revolution.
    That may well be case, but it’s hardly sufficient grounds for laying primary “blame” for the revolution and subsequent mass killings at the feet of the U.S., rather than Paul Pot.

  • Chaunce Hayden

    Jeremy,
    You’ve misunderstood Chandler’s testimony, he mentions the bombing second, that does not make it a “second factor” – from the context it is clear that he considers the bombing a primary factor, such as when he states, “…but, to a large extent, I think American actions are to blame.”
    You wrote in your first post, “Answer: b/c in fact it was limited bombing in the jungles along the border.”
    500,000 tons does not sound like limited bombing to me, and I wonder what effects you would expect to result from such a campaign. According to the passage from the Congressional record which I cited, “In Phnom Penh, there are between one and two million refugees in a city that had a pre-war total population of about 375,000. The added hundreds of thousands of destitute victims has proven a burden with which relief programs cannot cope…. Almost the totality of those refugees entering Phnom Penh and the provincial capitals for protection were farmers from the neighboring countryside.” That’s 1-2 million refugees from the very places where 500,000 tons of bombs were dropped, it’s not a coincidence and as far as I’m aware, the peasants did not have an air force. The CIA in 1980 (Kampuchea: A Demographic Catastrophe) estimated pre-April 1975 (before the KR seized power) “war-related deaths” to be in the range of 600,000 to 700,000. It would take quite a bit of talent and denial to avoid the conclusion that the US is largely to blame for most of those deaths, and for the utter destruction of the country which led to rise of the Khmer Rouge. If you want more detail on this you should read Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia by William Shawcross.

  • http://saturninretrograde.blogspot.com Ernest Brown

    Did Stalin suffer from bombing that drove him crazy?-No
    Did Lenin have airplanes buzzing him every night-Absolutely not
    Was Mao haunted by Japanese strategic bombing?-No way.
    The Khmer Rouge strongholds were in the North and North West of Cambodia, while most of the bombing took place on the Cambodian/Vietnamese border to interdict supplies coming down from the Ho Chi Minh trail and to catch the NVA and Viet Cong forces transiting along the border using Cambodia as a “free zone.”
    The war undoubtedly caused disruptions and death, but the auto-genocide of the Khmer Rouge was every bit as ideologically motivated as the mass murders of Kronstadt, the Gulag and the Cultural Revolution.

  • Chaunce Hayden

    I don’t believe anyone has argued that the Khmer Rouge were not to blame for their crimes, what we are discussing is if they would have been able to take over the country had it not been for the massive US bombing campaign which devastated the country and contributed to the estimated pre-KR death toll of 600,000 – 700,000 human beings.
    As for the “limited border incursion” meme here is Shawcross:
    “The language of the Cooper-Church amendment (limiting U.S. involvement in Cambodia), which was being debated at this time, forbade the use of American air power in close support of Lon Nol’s troops. After June 30, 1970, it was to be used only to interdict men and supplies en route to Vietnam. Publicly the administration accepted this restriction, but in fact it was ignored from the start. On the fifteenth of June, Nixon interrupted a WASSAG meeting to insist on more bombing in Cambodia. Its primary purpose might be interdiction, he said, but “I want this purpose interpreted very broadly.” The President ordered Laird’s deputy, David Packard, to see how more air power could be made available to Lon Nol. Packard suggested that bombing might not be the most effective aid but, he told his colleagues later, “This didn’t seem to get through.” It was clear to Packard that Nixon was determined to have almost limitless bombing in Cambodia. And so, on June 17, a “Top Secret, Exclusive” cable was sent to Abrams by the Joint Chiefs to authorize more United States and Vietnamese bombing “in any situation which involves a serious threat to major Cambodian positions, such as a provincial capital whose loss would constitute serious military or psychological blow to the country.” The Chiefs ordered Abrams, in accordance with Nixon’s instructions, to “conduct the most aggressive U.S. and R.V.N.A.F. [South Vietnamese] air campaign in Cambodia which is feasible….” Laird, realizing that the White House was obdurate, secretly recommended that post-strike reports no longer be divided between close support and interdiction; this allowed the support role to be concealed much more easily.
    The White House was concerned not to provoke the Congress into banning all air power, as well as advisers, in Cambodia. While the debate over the Cooper-Church amendment was taking place, the extent and purpose of the bombing were publicly played down. But when, at the end of 1970, the amendment finally became law, without any bar on bombing in Cambodia to interdict men and supplies en route to Vietnam, some pretenses were dropped. The Pentagon admitted openly that it would now use the full range of its air power in Cambodia, since any enemy there might “ultimately” threaten United States forces in Vietnam. Laird publicly dismissed the distinction between “interdiction” and “close air support” as “semantics.” Rogers declared, “We are going to continue to use that air power, because it protects American lives. It’s the least costly way to protect our men-and why we should have any restrictions on the use of that air power to protect American lives, I don’t know.” Unnamed officials told The New York Times that Cambodia was being used as a laboratory to test “public acceptance of the general process of gradually substituting helicopters and attack planes for foot soldiers, as American combat units are withdrawn from the Vietnam war.”
    There were fewer controls and restraints on targeting in Cambodia than in Vietnam. The South Vietnamese Air Force, as we have seen, considered Cambodia an open field, and although most American pilots were, as a rule, more careful, several have testified that almost anything in Cambodia constituted a legitimate target. The original Menu strikes on the border sanctuaries ended, still a secret, in May. By now, Menu was a recognized procedure, not merely a geographic area. “I would like to retain the Menu cover,” Laird wrote to the Chiefs. One of his aides subsequently explained that the Menu procedures required the Chiefs to ask Laird’s approval for specific attacks and thus placed some control on the bombing. At the same time, however, it meant that the falsification of Cambodian bombing reports was now accepted as normal.
    The main area of the new, extended bombing was known as Freedom Deal. Originally a box of Northeastern Cambodia between the border and the Mekong, it was gradually pushed southward and westward into more heavily populated areas, as the fighting spread. Bombing outside Freedom Deal was reported as being inside, and bombing in populated areas inside as being in wild, uninhabited places. The mis-reporting meant that there was very little follow-up, or “bomb damage assessment,” after missions. In Saigon, little or nothing was known about the location and shifts of Cambodian villages, particularly in Khmer Rouge areas. At the same time, the battle zones of Cambodia were even more inaccessible to the press than those of Vietnam. Carelessness and callousness were easier to practice and tolerate.”